The Obama Administration has used executive privilege to withhold from the public roughly 12,000 documents, totaling roughly 120,000 pages, which detail deliberations over its 2012 decision to sweep up Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s capital.
This unilateral decision by the Treasury Department to amend its agreement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) resulted in over $235 billion of profits made by privately-owned companies flowing directly into government coffers. While this is controversial in itself and sparked legal challenges the fact that we are now more than three years removed from the decision and more than seven years removed from the financial crisis raises another set of serious questions about the use of executive privilege in ongoing litigation.
Executive privilege is a highly controversial option for presidents to use. Typically, it has been reserved for sensitive national security matters or, at times, criminal probes into the White House. Its usage in the Fannie and Freddie litigation raises important questions: What documents detailing the sweep of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could possibly be so sensitive that they are placed on par with matters such as the Watergate tapes, the Lewinsky scandal, the CIA interrogation methods investigation and the Fast and Furious gun running operation? Could it mean that the Administration is hiding something?